Happy Easter everyone! What a way to celebrate the long weekend than with a loooong overdue new entry into the Canberra Spotlight!
This week we are talking to Smilesarebetter Cosplay
GAMMA.CON: It’s Easter weekend and we’re sitting down with Smilesarebetter Cosplay, Smiles thank you for talking with us today!
Smilesarebetter: Thank you for having me, how is your Easter going so far?
G: Way too much chocolate floating around GAMMA.HQ, want some?
S: Actually I’m not that into chocolate, I feel more like a biscuit person.
G: You go by the name ‘Smilesarebetter’ can you tell us the origin of this unique moniker?
S: Long story short; try to let go of the negativity weighing you down, otherwise you will never grow to your full potential. Just a reminder to look on the bright side! I was also super embarrassed to smile for so long because I had braces for nearly 4 years, so I smile when ever I get the chance now!
G: When did you get your first taste of the pop culture scene?
S: I started cosplaying back in 2008 when I went to an early Supanova Sydney with a friend. She let me borrow her Gryffindor uniform from Harry Potter and I had the best time! I decided I would keep going every year.
G: Were you into anime/games/nerdy stuff before the faithful trip to Supanova? Or was this an introduction to that as well?
S: I think I’ve always been into this kind of stuff, I honestly couldn’t imagine what or who I would be without pop culture and it’s influence in my life.
G: So that got you into pop culture and conventions, but what inspired you to be a cosplayer?
S: I was a massive fan of Digimon and wanted to dress as one of the characters for a party. I did a Google search and the word ‘cosplay’ kept appearing. As soon as i discovered that there were actually events for this kind of stuff I was absolutely hooked! And I have been immersed ever since, so I suppose you could say the fandoms themselves were my reason for starting.
G: Which Digimon character was it out of interest?
S: It was so long ago now I can’t really remember, I have admired them for a really long time and I think I identify with each of them a lot in different ways because they themselves were all so different. Learning to accept each other to make a good team as well as all of their strengths was a concept I loved growing up with.
I would still love to cosplay Sora/Tai (the Digi-Destined) or even Weregarurumon (one of the Digimon).
G: So I guess there weren’t that many people cosplaying in Canberra back in 2008? Not that many oppertunities to show it off?
S: I’m sure there would have been but very few people I knew about, early on one of the few things I can remember was traveling down to Impact Comics for Otakufest (now the Impact Comic Festival), but I don’t think there were many people really serious about it.
G: Was that one of the things that inspired you to start the Canberra Cosplay group (CanCos)?
S: Yea, unfortunately nothing cosplay/pop culturish really happened in Canberra, so I thought “why not gauge interest and get something going myself?”
I remember when the group only had a few of my friends from school in it and now it has over 700+ members!
I like to organise small events for coplayers to attend (whether in costume or not) just to hang out and discuss ideas and make new friends. There is also a lot of discussion on where to find materials or how to make certain items, so it’s also become a really valuable resource for costume makers as well as a place to make friends!
G: What is the best thing about the community in Canberra?
S: For myself probably all the friends I’ve made. It’s also a nice feeling knowing that so long ago I started something which at the time was so small and watching it grow had been a wonderful experience.
G: What would you like to see happen in Canberra in terms of cosplay and the whole nerdy scene?
S: Larger scale events and a closer focus particularly on cosplay would be wonderful. I know many people that attend these events purely for the cosplay so it definitely wouldn’t hurt!
G: You also run a popular youtube channel, tell us about that?
S: Well since my favorite part of conventions is defiantly seeing all the amazing cosplay, I thought it would be interesting to make videos dedicated to displaying all the hard work people put into them and hopefully create something with a little more depth then a still image.
It was such an awesome creative output for me and I love looking back at all the events I’ve been to and the people I have met. It’s kind of like a video diary for myself, unfortunately haven’t done much lately but I’m sure that’ll change soon.
G: You also make AMVs, which is something that Canberra doesn’t see enough of, but you also sing?
S: Haha yeah I do really like editing in particular. I am working on a few other things at the moment actually so stay tuned. As for singing…let’s just say my friends can’t shut me up!
G: What materials do you specialise in when making a costume?
S: I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about different materials, I generally like to touch it to see if it is stretchy/flexible/durable/thick and actually has the texture for what I’m after.
I do however tend to use a lot of scuba knit, it’s probably my favorite material. Works really well when making body suits! Any stretch material is my best friend, it’s nice to have that little extra room.
G: What is your favorite part of the process?
S: Planning my own design for a character e.g. gender bend or a gijinka (a re-design of an animal-like character in a human or humanoid form but wearing a costume of the base character rather than having real animal features).
If its an existing character design that I’m using then to make them as accurate as physically possible. This can include changing my body shape, binding my chest for male characters, using wigs, eye contacts, makeup and body paint (arms + legs for my gremlin) and even some basic face prosthetic.
So I suppose seeing the transformation; a before and after kind of thing. Making myself look completely different!
G: What is your favorite part of being a cosplayer?
S: Being a super hero! I love feeling powerful, and wearing cosplay often makes me feel like I could be a hero (well at least look the part)!
Also meeting people that like the same shows/games as I do so we can discuss our love for them.
G: What has been the most difficult thing and what has been the most fun thing to bring to life?
S: Most difficult was probably the female gremlin, I needed 6.5+ hours of help from two other people just to get the makeup done. Great costume but sooooo much work. Definitely worth it to look totally creepy and freak people out at the event!
G: What is the most rewarding thing to come out of your time as a cosplayer?
S: I really love being asked for photos with children! Knowing that a child is excited to see you and the feeling of accomplishment when they actually could believe you ARE the character. I have such fond memories at conventions spending time with little ones, especially as Spyro and Marty Mcfly (those adults know how to parent)!
G: Who/what are you planning on cosplaying next?
S: I’m really in love with Marinette AKA Miraculous Ladybug (originally a French animation now playing on ABC3)! She is a must do for my list this year! I’ve already got most of the pieces together and hopefully you will be seeing her debut at Sydney Supanova later in June.
G: Tell us what your first costume was like compared to your latest?
S: Well for starters I can actually sew now. 6-7 years ago I honestly had no idea people even made costumes, I thought everybody went to some crazy costume store I didn’t know about. But one of the best things I did was learn to sew, it’s really rewarding to be able to make things yourself. It also comes in handy being able to fix clothes and all sorts of other things if need be.
You can really see improvement over the last few years. Everything from costumes/props/wig styling/makeup, I’m really lucky to have such talented friends to learn from and that are willing to help me every step of the way.
G: Would you say your cosplay courage has grown in the last couple of years, taking more risks in the type of costume you make?
S: My confidence as a person is higher then ever, but certainly as a cosplayer as well. I have a much better image of myself and i love to challenge myself with learning new things. Previously I would never have even tried some of the things that I’m currently working on.
Skin tight costumes were always a no no and wearing full body makeup? I can safely say would never have crossed my mind either!
G: What cosplay do you feel the most connected to?
S: Definitely Marty Mcfly. I absolutely love the Back to the Future film franchise and I’m so attached to all the characters.
I don’t think anyone can say that they’ve never thought about going back in time either. I had such a great time being able to play it up for 2015 too. I was on radio, did interviews, public appearances with a DeLorean and got to meet so many other people as passionate as I was. Even got to meet Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) while wearing it!
The best cosplay experiences I’ve had to date revolved around that cosplay and franchise.
G: What makes you choose a certain character to cosplay?
S: I need to love the character, it helps to look like them and have a similar personality but overall how much I adore the character/franchise decides on whether or not it gets cosplayed by me.
Not sure if it’s good or bad that I just so happen to fall in love with so may things, it means I have a lot of choice, but rarely enough time to make them all. Haha
G: Smilesarebetter, thank you for chatting with us!
S: No worries guys, thanks again for having me! Hope everyone enjoys their Easter weekend!